Dear Students and Parents,
Please review the following information about lessons, scheduling and payments. Understanding and following these guidelines will help to keep us free of unnecessary problems, and hopefully avoid confusion during the busier times.
Home Studio: I teach private lessons in my home at the rate of $75 per hour. I teach hour lessons only, as we get so much more accomplished in that time, and most students find the hour goes by very quickly.
Rice: Lessons through the Michael Hammond Preparatory Division are billed at $80 per hour. The additional cost at Rice provides extra opportunities for performing, chamber music coaching, as well as reduced rates for theory lessons and my high school cello class. While being on my student roster through the Prep Program is by special arrangement only, all students have the opportunity to register for chamber music, theory, and group lessons. You may speak with me about it, or call the Prep Office at 713-348-5753.
Scheduling/Payments/Cancellations We always begin our work by making sure we have a REGULAR LESSON TIME. This is an hour that needs to be conflict-free a majority of the time. Please be aware that your REGULAR LESSON TIME is a permanent time in my schedule which I write into my calendar at least a month or two in advance, and that is when I will always expect to see you unless we’ve made other plans. For consistency, it is important that we meet every week for lessons, but realistically that is not always possible. With the exception of special circumstances in the summer, I require my students to attend a minimum of 3 lessons per month to maintain a place in my schedule.
Students who study with me at my home pay by the month at the first lesson of each month. In advance, we will look at our calendars to check for conflicts and find reschedule times wherever possible. Those lessons we agree on are the lessons for which payment is due. Rice Prep students register for lessons by the semester (13 weeks). Fall Registration deadline this year is August 15, and the Spring Term deadline is December 10.
PLEASE NOTE: I no longer give credit for lesson cancellations. I will provide everyone a copy of my schedule and contact list of my students, and if you are sick or a conflict arises, you are welcome to call and trade times with another student. Hopefully you can help each other out from time to time. If you are unable to find a trade, please let me know and we will do everything possible to find another time for you. If a scheduling problem is caused by my own conflict you will of course be given credit for that lesson. If you ever have any questions about lesson payments, scheduling, or simply need to clarify the next lesson time, PLEASE don’t hesitate to call me. One quick phone call to double-check a time can save us a troublesome mix-up!
Communication Email has become the best way for me to manage our schedule. Please be sure to check your email regularly for confirmations and updates, and email me about conflicts and other issues unless you’d like to speak with me directly. Phone: Please call my home studio phone 713-895-7758 and leave a message if I do not answer. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Do not hang up and call again, or call my cell phone next—when I don’t answer it is usually because I’m teaching and cannot pick up either phone. Please consider how intrusive it is for phones to ring and ring while I am trying to give a student my undivided attention. Rice Prep students who need to contact me on Friday afternoons and Saturdays will need to call my cell phone (713-253-7709).
Neighborhood Issues If you come to my house for lessons, please be aware of two potential problems: 1) No matter how late you might be, DO NOT SPEED down our street. The neighbors have let me know that they could shut me down if my “clients” are bothering them (our neighborhood association regulations officially prohibit businesses). I simply cannot keep a student on my schedule if I have problems with this. Also, 2) the mail is not delivered—to us or our neighbors—if a car is parked in front of a mailbox. Weekday afternoons please park your car in our driveway or a couple houses down the street between mailboxes so we can avoid this problem.
Group Classes Group lessons for High School students will be held at Rice in Alice Pratt Brown Hall (the Music building, across the parking lot from the stadium) at 2:00 pm Saturdays beginning August 22 (a semester schedule will be distributed to registered students). The fee is $200 ($150 for Rice Prep students) for 10 hours of classes. Fall semester classes are devoted to the high school All-Region and All-State audition preparation; in the Spring we focus on technique and cello ensembles. If you are high-school student, please plan on signing up for the group session both semesters.
Recitals The Shepherd School Preparatory Program provides registered students opportunities to play in at least three recitals per semester, and I will be sure that those of you studying there will take advantage of as many of them as possible. The recital dates are already on the prep calendar (check your registration packets), and students who are ready to perform will be able to sign up for these within a week of the date.
Also, at the end of each school year I have all my students play a group recital as a wonderful culmination of everyone’s hard work during the year. Scheduling the recital is always the biggest challenge, since everyone is so busy—but the end of May or early June seems to work for most everyone. Please make it a priority date…it is a low pressure, relatively casual performance with lots of support and big rewards!
Please feel free to talk to me about any questions you have concerning the information in this policy or about your lessons, my expectations about practicing, etc. I’m looking forward to another fruitful year with all of you!
Cornelia (Corky) Watkins